Plague of Conscience
06 February 2012
by David Keevill
Alterno-crossover bands swarm over metal like herpes over Tommy Lee’s genitals. In fact, the genre has become so riddled with tributary offshoots and bastardised spawn that it’s often easy to forget the birthing wails of metal; the riffs given by Black Sabbath, the vocal acrobatics of Led Zeppelin and how the generation of bands thereafter – Priest, Maiden, Metallica – moulded an undeniably fierce, dark beast (born of its predecessors) that remained the archetype for so long. However ‘purist’ metal bands of late have looked tired and uncertain of this brave new world. Savage Messiah and their latest release, Plague of Conscience, look ready to smash this trend.
The boulder of predictability that usually gets dragged behind by such trad metal bands is near invisible on Plague of Conscience, although the central tenets of metal still remain. Yes, there are riffs and they are huge; the title track, about half a minute through, opens into a gargantuan slathering monolith of guitar frenzy and although you must think that every riff ever should exist by now, SM manage an adrenaline shot straight to the heart that makes their axe work seem innovative and damaging. The vocals leap from Halford-esque screams to clean low-end lyrics, which all come together in the track In Thought Alone where Dave Silver swings between both ably. Silver’s calloused vocals are noticeably less of a snarl than on Insurrection Rising, but are far more suited to the environment that Plague of Conscience creates. Even without ‘evil’ vocals, this album is no less furious and no less of an admonishment of society’s inadequacies.
Moments of outstanding metal recur throughout the album; the outro piece from All Seeing I that is a monolithic sensibility-destroying hammer blow, and a series of great-sounding solos, especially in Carnival of Souls, that would make Kirk Hammet’s bollocks retract inside his knarled husk of a body. For a band who’ve harnessed such obvious elements of a “generic” metal work, there is very little here that seems forced or staid. Beyond A Shadow Of A Doubt harvests a few squeamish moments with its vocal harmonies, but remains essentially solid.
The relentless Insurrection Risisng has made way for a beast of surer purpose, and with Plague of Conscience, Savage Messiah don’t look like children playing with guitars but instead are fully-fledged creatures of the night. The cohesiveness of the record hits home as Mask of Anarchy fades out, and you’ve suddenly ripped out of the glorious mess that Savage Messiah have thrown you into. Grab a lung full of air. Rinse and Repeat.
Sounds Like: Judas Priest and Metallica actually making some good music in the 21st century
Standout Tracks: Carnival of Souls, In Thought Alone
Although Plague of Conscience is not available on physical formats until next month, you can get hold of a copy right damn now by heading over to Earache Records’ official website, and handing over an email address. Yes, it really is that simple.